A hanging indent is a formatting option in word processing applications like Google Docs and Microsoft Word that will automatically add a left indent to a paragraph while leaving the first line in the original location.
A regular indentation setting will usually apply the reverse; meaning that the first line indent will be applied off of the left margin instead of the remaining lines in the paragraph.
But certain formatting requirements from organizations like the MLA will dictate that specific situations, such as on a works cited page, may require the indent to start on the second line of the paragraph instead.
The steps in the guide above use the Google Docs program from the Google Apps suite to let you customize your indentation options and quickly indent your entire paragraph while leaving the first line of a paragraph in place.
How to Create a Hanging Indent in Google Docs
- Open the document.
- Choose the line to indent.
- Click Format.
- Select Align & indent.
- Choose Indentation options.
- Select Hanging under Special indent and enter a size.
- Click Apply.
Our article continues below with additional information on creating a hanging indent in Google Docs, including pictures of these steps.
How to Do a Hanging Indent on Google Docs (Guide with Pictures)
The steps in this article were performed in the desktop version of the Google Chrome Web browser, but will also work in other desktop browsers like Firefox or Safari.
Use these steps to make a hanging indent in Google Docs.
- Open the document in Google Docs.
You can go directly to https://drive.google.com to access your documents quickly.
- Click on the line in the document that you want to indent.
You can actually click anywhere within the paragraph that you wish to indent.
- Select the “Format” tab at the top of the window.
- Choose the “Align & indent” option.
- Click “Indentation options.”
- Select the “Special indent” dropdown menu, click “Hanging”, then choose a size for the indent.
The sizes shown in the image below are in inches, but may be in centimeters based on your geographic location.
- Click the “Apply” button.
The next section in our guide will discuss how to use hanging indents in the Google Docs iPhone App.
How to Create Hanging Indents in Google Docs on an iPhone or Android
The Google Docs app that is available on iPhone and Android devices is surprisingly robust, and includes many of the features that you will find and use in Docs on your computer. Unfortunately one of those options is not a hanging indent, so you need to apply a workaround if you want to accomplish it through the mobile app.
Step 1: Open the Google Docs app and choose the document to edit.
Step 2: Tap on the pencil icon at the bottom-right corner of the screen.
Step 3: Double-tap at the beginning of the second line in the paragraph. Alternatively, you could place your cursor at the end of the first line, then press “Enter” to start a new line.
Step 4: Touch the underlined “A” icon at the top of the screen.
Step 5: Select the Paragraph tab.
Step 6: Choose the Right indent option.
You should now have a paragraph in your document that has its first line positioned at the left margin, and the rest of the lines in that paragraph should be right-indented.
FAQ and More information on How to Do a Hanging Indent in Google Docs
- After the hanging indent has been applied you will see a blue triangle in the ruler that indicates the position of the left indent. There will also be a blue rectangle next to it, which is the first line indent marker.
- If you don’t see the rulers on your document, then you can go to View > Show ruler to enable it.
- If you need to exercise more margin control over your document, check out the margin settings under File > Page setup.
- MLA format often requires you to double-space your document as well. That setting is found by going to Format > Line spacing > and choosing the Double option.
- One other way to create this type of indentation is to select the paragraph that you want to format, then drag the Left indent (the inverted blue triangle) icon in the ruler until it shows the desired size of the indent. You can then drag the First line indent (the small blue rectangle) icon back to the left margin.
- If you would like to apply this to multiple paragraphs in a Google Doc you simply need to click and drag until all of the desired paragraphs are selected then use either the Indentation options method or the ruler method to apply the hanging indent.
Google Docs allows you to create a hanging indent by first opening the document, then choosing where in the document you would like to add the indent. You can then go to Format > Align & indent > Indentation options > Special Indent > Hanging. You may then specify the size of the hanging indent. Once you are finished, click the OK button.
If you are having trouble visualizing a hanging indent and are unsure if it is the type of formatting that you would like to use, then you may be wondering what it looks like. An image of a hanging indent in Google Docs is shown below.
A hanging indent is a formatting option where the first line of a paragraph is positioned along the left margin of the document, then the rest of the paragraph is indented.
When you create a hanging indent in Google Docs you select the first line of a paragraph, then you follow the steps in our guide above to create the hanging indent. As part of the process, you will be able to specify the amount of space that you would like to use for the hanging indent.
As is the case with most of the formatting options that you will apply to a document, you can remove a hanging indent in your document.
To remove a hanging indent in Google Docs you must first click somewhere inside the paragraph that contains the hanging indent. You can then go to Format > Align & Indent > Indentation options, where you will click the Special Indent drop down and choose the None option. You can then click OK to apply the change.
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Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech tutorials since 2008. His writing has appeared on dozens of different websites and been read over 50 million times.
After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science he spent several years working in IT management for small businesses. However, he now works full time writing content online and creating websites.
His main writing topics include iPhones, Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Android, and Photoshop, but he has also written about many other tech topics as well.
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